Nudist professor claims he is victim of 'institutional prejudice'
PUBLISHED October 22, 2012
David Dunstan, a professor of experimental physics at London University and committed naturist, was arrested by officers hunting a cyclist who had jumped out of bushes to pester frightened schoolgirls.
Prof Dunstan, who was not the gentleman they were looking for, protested he had been out of the country while the alleged offence took place, but was arrested anyway.
Officers from Surrey police had noticed he was carrying flyers for a naked bike ride across London, which he had participated in two weeks earlier, and a nightclub named "Starkers", the High Court heard.
Police searched his home and seized various nudist photographs and memorabilia, which he had not attempted to conceal and were confirmed to be entirely legal.
During his police interview, which Professor Dunstan says focused heavily on his enthusiasm for naturism, he highlighted evidence from witnesses which he believed proved it could not be him.
On one occasion, he pointed out the suspect they were seeking had tan lines, telling them that he - as a nudist - certainly did not have any of those.
He also offered to show them a train ticket from a week's holiday at the Quartier Naturiste, in the south of France, from which he had returned just the day before his arrest in June 2009.
The academic, who was twice put on police bail, employed a solicitor to assist him and was compelled to go through an identity procedure before was suspicion was lifted.
Since then, he has embarked on a legal battle to prove his treatment was the result of "institutional prejudice" against naturists.
Today, he told the High Court he has never sought to blame any individual officer for his unpleasant experience.
Instead, he argued officers admitted they were following a "propensity theory", that naturists are more likely than most to commit crimes involving exposure, and suggested they may have been influenced by the flyers and items found at his home.
Professor Dunstan, who accepts that he "matched quite well" witnesses' description of the naked cyclist in terms of age and hair colour, has already made a complaint to Surrey Police.
This was investigated but not upheld by the force, with the Independent Police Complaints Commission rejecting his claim the complaint had not been adequately looked into in December.
Prof Dunstan has now told the High Court the investigation had been carried out on the false premise that he was accusing the force of "homophobia".
Although he happened to be gay, that had nothing to do with his allegation of prejudice against naturists, he argued.
Mrs Justice Cox dismissed his case, saying he had no arguable grounds for challenging the IPCC's decision that Surrey police had adequately responded to his complaint.
Professor Dunstan was ordered to contribute £150 towards the IPCC's legal costs bills.